There is growing outrage from a viral video that shows a white math teacher in her California high school’s classroom appearing to mock Native American tradition by donning a “fake feather headdress” and performing a dance in front of students that was widely construed as being culturally disrespectful.
The video was posted across all social media platforms but particularly went viral on Twitter, where it had been viewed nearly 4 million times as of Thursday afternoon. It seemed to be originally shared via the Instagram account of someone named Akalei Brown, whose feed is replete with positive images of Native Americans.
Encouraging her followers to “Please SHARE Widely,” Brown’s caption for the video said “a Native American student filmed this video in his Math class” on Tuesday. “After several minutes of the teacher ‘war hooping & tomahawk chopping’ the student began filming because he, ‘felt that violence was being committed against him and he had the right to record,’” the caption said in part.
The caption also identified the teacher as Candice Reed, who works at John W. North High School in Riverside, where she has reportedly been putting on the same performance for her students for more than a decade. It was not immediately clear what math lesson, if any, she may have been trying to teach her students by trying to imitate Native American dance.
“At first the student noticed the teacher was pulling out a fake feather headdress and when she put it on he thought, ‘what is she going to do?’” the caption added.
Brown used her post to make a personal plea to her followers.
“I am sharing this video because these behaviors can no longer be swept under the rug! As adults, we must stand up for our youth! Please help us in getting the word out and SHARE!” Brown wrote. “This student has a Native first name and outwardly identifies as Native American. We need to end abuse & discrimination against indigenous youth in schools! There is no excuse for this type of behavior. We’re not in the 1960s anymore, she should know better.”
Brown invited her followers and whoever else the video was shared with to contact Riverside Unified School District and express their outrage with the principal of John W. North High School and other leaders within the school district.
Brown said she has even more footage.
The fact that the teacher performed this disrespectful dance in the wake of the nation celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day demonstrates a certain level of indifferent ignorance. Compounding that apparent truth is that it also came from an individual charged with educating impressionable teenagers in an area of the country where there is a population that is less than 1% Native American and nearly 77% white can’t be overlooked.
This is America.
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